Passengers wait to board the F43 feeder bus near Discovery Gardens. The buses are part of the integrated transport system in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: Commuters in Dubai will soon be able to use their credit or debit cards to travel on all modes of public transport, including the Dubai Metro, buses and water taxis, and even to pay parking fees.

The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in collaboration with Emirates NBD said they would launch a "combi-card" — a co-branded credit/debit card — by April next year.

"The combi-card, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East, will have features of credit/debit bank card and the unified fare collection card commonly known as Nol Card," said Abdullah Al Madani, CEO of the RTA Technical Support Services Sector at the RTA.

Al Madani said the card will enable cardholders to enjoy all the benefits and features of a credit or debit card and to pay the fare for various public transport modes. The card can also be used to pay for parking tickets in the paid-parking zones.

Any individual who qualifies for a credit card will be able to obtain the card, regardless of whether or not they are an existing Emirates NBD customer, he said.

The combi-card would have the features of Nol Blue card, which is a personalised card, Al Madani indicated.

Twin chips

The card would have two chips — one for the bank's credit or debit card and the other for the Nol card interface. The Nol card chip would have a credit limit as per the customer's instructions. The Nol Card chip would be topped up automatically (as instructed by the customer) from the credit/debit accounts on the same card. This way, the combi-card holder would never run out of credit on his Nol Card. "The Nol card chip will be recharged or topped up automatically," said Jamal Bin Gulaita, Emirates NBD Group Deputy CEO.

Bin Gulaita said the bank will also provide supplementary cards to the main cardholder's family members, which could also be topped up in line with instructions given to the bank. "One of our key philosophies has always been developing products that give customers superior value with benefits and rewards," Bin Gulaita said.

Nol cards: Million uses a day

More than a million Nol Card transactions are recorded every day as people are increasingly using it to ride public transport and pay for parking tickets, a senior RTA official said.Mohammad Al Mudharreb, Director of the RTA's Automatic Fare Collection Card department, said that more than 2.7 million Nol cards had been sold so far. "We have noticed that increasing number of people are using Nol Cards to pay for parking their vehicles," he said.

The RTA will offer travel passes and discount cards for students, people with special needs, and senior citizens next year.

What do you think of this initiative? Will it encourage more people to ride the Metro? Would you apply for it?